Alternative Living: How to Live and Travel For Next to Nothing

We humans used to live as nomads for about ninety-nine percent of our history. Following the various herds that kept us alive, we even dared to explore the freezing Scandinavia just to get a bit more of that succulent reindeer meat, living like true opportunists and going where there might be food and comfort.


While it’s difficult to say exactly what happened and why we suddenly settled down as farmers, in the end, we do know that some people still carry this nomadic lifestyle close to their heart – even though it’s safe to say that we’ve evolved quite a bit since that time.

Maybe they always see the grass as a bit greener on the other side, or maybe they just have a particularly restless soul that would leave any steady farmer in confusion and disbelief.

No matter what kind of lifestyle you prefer, here is an insight to the various lifestyles across the world – and how you too can pull off a nomadic lifestyle if you’d like to.

The Nomad and the Settler

The thing with lifestyles is that it tends to find you, rather than being sought out – you’ll feel it in your heart, and to settle for anything else will usually leave you with a discontent and unhappy feeling. When you’ve been on the move for a while, it’s typical for many to feel a need to set root somewhere, to have a place they can call home and connect with.

Maybe you’ve been moving houses so many times in your life already, that the thought of a large home with all of your family members in one place makes you feel all warm and gooey inside. During the big emigration from the Nordic countries to America, Norway’s Hamsun wrote with scepticism in his book Wayfarers about the people who left their home country and had ‘pulled their roots up from the ground, dragging them restlessly around with them.’

When you’ve been on the move for a while, and you’re just ready to have a steady home, it certainly can feel like you’ve been pulling those roots with you for too long – and it’s time to get grounded again.

The nomadic soul, on the other hand, is tired of being bound to one place all the time and prefer to travel with few possessions. It could be a temporary fling, and many of us snap out of it by the time we’d like to have a family and live a relatively normal lifestyle.

There are quite some, on the other hand, who never snap out of it – and who would return to their home country for a bit, just to rush off again at the sight of a new adventure – much like the young wanderers, August and Edvard, in Hamsun’s novel.

#1 The Skilled Wanderer

When you have a set of skills to offer, there are many opportunities all over the world. The only requirement is that you need to enjoy what you do – and, of course, be tempted to go from one place to the next, wherever your skills are needed.

Carpenters are, for example, the perfect candidates for a nomadic lifestyle. No matter where you go, people are in need of good wood-work, and it’s in high demand all over the world.

This means that you can easily offer your services on a building site or a smaller project, ask for accommodation there as you’ll be working from early dawn to when the sun sets, and be fed as well in exchange for your services.

You can probably negotiate a different deal if you’re not keen on the thought of waking up among other unwashed carpenters every day – but even if you get paid, you can save a lot of money on living rough for a bit.

Remember that if you’re slightly creative, you can easily make a living while travelling as a freelancer. Set up a blog before you go and develop it enough to earn a bit on the side, bid for jobs online, or offer your counseling services through Skype. The world is your oyster when you have a decent client base, a functioning laptop, and a stable Internet connection.

#2 Intentional Communities

While we’ve all seen too many movies and probably associate these communities with long-haired hippies who live off the earth, it doesn’t have to be like this – although that sounds kind of nice, by the way. There are so many people out there who just want to live without depending on money and society – so they’ve simply formed their own and sustain themselves by helping each other.

It’s kind of like we used to live, back in the days, when everyone had their own little patch of land in their backyard and traded whatever they had an excess of.

Try to find a community that focuses on something that you’re interested in. Permaculture, nudity, religion, and extra-terrestrials are common points of gathering to find in communities like these. You can head off and live with one of these and then find another community to get involved with when you start to feel restless again.


Just keep in mind that while you’ll find oddballs all over the world, the chances might be especially high in places like this – alternative lifestyles attract alternative people, to put it like that. You might consider yourself one of them, so go and check it out for yourself, have an experience of a lifetime, and stay safe.

#3 Boat living

Anyone who dreamed of sailing the seven seas when they were younger might have considered this lifestyle already. Even if you dreamt of something very different, the thought might have tempted you in any way – who doesn’t love the idea of living in a boat?

It’s the perfect combination of a nomadic lifestyle and a settler’s; stay for as long as you’d like in one place, and set off to discover the next one down the Australian coast.

Needless to say, boat living doesn’t come for free, so consider freelancing or remote work while you’re enjoying your new lifestyle of complete freedom.

First of all, you need to have a boat – which is usually costly, unless you’d like to spend a couple of years on building one yourself. I’ve met some people who spent five years on building a magnificent boat that could house about twenty people – they sailed all over the world and had a blast.

If this sounds like something you’d like to do, I’ll pass on the advice they gave: find locals to help you out that knows what they’re doing. Although my friends at the boat took all the credit for building it, the captain was quick to admit that he mostly took instructions and could never have done it without their help.

They even had to find wood in the correct shapes to build that boat, people; it looked absolutely stunning.

Test it out on a holiday first, before you decide once and for all to live the rest of your life as a sea person. A lot of holiday places offer boat harbour accommodation which can give you a taste of the life at sea before you commit to it and have a long look at this article first.


#4 Live in a native village

Although it sounds kind of like living in an intentional community, it’s far from it. While the people in those communities have chosen to live outside of the society and usually enjoy an alternative lifestyle, the native villagers are at the center of their society.

They have certainly not chosen to live any differently than the neighbours they grew up with; they enjoy a slow life, watch the skies, talk about the weather, and help each other out with their daily chores.

If they accept you – and you can’t expect them to welcome every stranger with open arms, you’ll have the ultimate experience of going back to basics and getting to know a very different culture than our own.

You have to make yourself useful, of course, and find your spot in the village. If you’re a good fisher, help them with this, or enjoy the daily activities of the village by helping out with cooking and cleaning, taking care of the children, and everything else we need to do to live a happy and healthy life.

That’s what it’s about when you withdraw from your regular society and find peace with a group of people who are not rushing off to meet the next deadline or to pay the next bill; it is the rhythm of everyday life and of helping each other. You might even pick up a new language while you’re there – which you should if you’d like to be as included in their culture as possible.

With so many opportunities, it would be sad not to listen to your gut feeling and explore the world – people did, after all, take the chance and set off to America on a ship that spent about two months before it reached land.

They didn’t know what awaited them over there or if they were to be happier – but some of them did return home, speaking a different language, and introducing their former neighbours to an entirely new way of living.

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